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Thanks, Colin! St. Petersburg woman finds manatees munching in her back yard (w/video)

Tropical Storm Colin brought rising sea levels and a couple of manatees into one St. Petersburg woman's backyard. [Courtesy of Nancy Smith via Instagram]
Tropical Storm Colin brought rising sea levels and a couple of manatees into one St. Petersburg woman's backyard. [Courtesy of Nancy Smith via Instagram]
Published Jun. 7, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Tropical Storm Colin has brought headaches. Streets are flooded, the rain seems never ending and now manatees are invading people's backyards.

Wait, that last one doesn't seem too bad.

Actually, if you ask Nancy Smith, she'd probably tell you it's the coolest thing to ever happen behind her Northeast St. Petersburg home.

She's had two manatee spottings since Sunday, according to her Instagram feed.

Sunday morning she spotted one manatee, and then another. She was in heaven.

"Because of the rain, the tide was up over the seawall about a foot," she wrote on Instagram. "The water was moving around and I thought maybe I'd get lucky and see a manatee."

But it's when one climbed over the sea wall, waded through the water into Smith's yard and started eating her freshly mowed grass that she whipped out her camera phone and started to record.

The next day, it happened again. The water was even higher and another manatee climbed up to munch on grass, according to Smith's post.

Florida manatees have come ashore before for a snack during a storm, said Andy Garrett, a manatee rescue coordinator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He's collected a few similar photos over the years.

They seem to always be after the grass.

"I don't know how it tastes to the manatees," Garrett said, "but it may be sort of new vegetation for them. They normally don't get to eat lawn grass."

People should keep manatee spotting, Garrett said, especially once the waters recede.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has had to rescue manatees from golf course and backyard ponds after storms like Colin.

But the storms also bring a chance to see the gentle giants a bit closer than normal.

"Just enjoy from a safe distance," Garrett said.

Both of Smith's videos have more than 2,000 views on Instagram.

"Another great experience," she wrote after the second sighting. "Wish you could be here to see it, too!"

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.